Local church creates community trail for Chelsea

Published 3:41 pm Monday, October 2, 2023

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer 

CHELSEA – A new trail system is open to the public thanks to the efforts of members of St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church in Chelsea.

Volunteers from St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church in Chelsea recently reached a milestone on a new community project involving the construction of a trail across from the church. A ribbon cutting was held on Saturday, Sept. 30 to commemorate the completion of phase one of the trail system.

“When we first set out to do this, the idea was that we wanted to create something that we could share, not only with our members, but with the community,” Priest Sally Herring said. “From everything that we’ve seen so far, it’s been a huge success. We have had people reach out to us from other states encouraging us and welcoming the fact that there was going to be a new trail put into the area. It seems to be something that has brought a lot of people together, and we’re incredibly grateful for the community support for the city, for the county, for everyone who’s come out.”

The initial inspiration for the project came about during a men’s breakfast in which members were discussing how to make a difference in the community. They remembered that a small trail was previously located on a piece of land the church owned and decided to utilize it for their new trail.

“We wanted to do something to benefit our community and also for our church to show how awesome it is,” church member Chris Stricklin said.

With phase one completed, the space offers a half mile trail with a picnic area, community board and benches. Throughout the trail, 10 trees have been marked with plaques informing locals of the names of the types of trees. There are also colored crosses marking the different paths on the trail and plaques with bible verses.

“When you look at a vibrant thriving community, there’s always going to be some outdoor activities for families,” said Corley Ellis, state rep. for District 41. “(It’s great) to be a part of this ribbon cutting where families will have a place to come fellowship and spend time together and enjoy all of God’s beauty.”

Stricklin asked for a round of applause during the event in honor of the help given by the city of Chelsea and Shelby County.

“The county manager worked closely with us and his team helped us map this out and design it in a way that they would design their trails,” Strickland said.

There are two remaining phases of the trail left with plans to eventually extend the trail to a full mile and to create additional trails alongside it. The church may also add more markings on the trees and more benches.

In addition to introducing residents to the new trail, St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church also held Blessings of the Animals in which residents could take their family pet to Herring for a blessing.

“This is in honor of the Feast of St. Francis which would have been on Oct. 4,” Herring said. “St. Francis dedicated his life total to those who couldn’t speak for themselves and is known as the patron saint of the needy and of animals. Since the day was coming so soon, we decided today would be a great day to go ahead and honor St. Francis, especially with the trail, and then have everybody come out with their four-legged friends.”